Mary Marcano is a widow and a mother of five who is considered to be a very resourceful and strong woman, particularly in the face of today’s changing world. As a woman with hands of compassion, deep faith and mercy, Mary (appropriately named) has been able to bring some light amidst the darkness for many impoverished families.
The ‘Santa Rosa Soup Kitchen’ and the ‘Party for the Children of the Poor’ are two of her projects which she has been committed to in order to help the lives of the needy, particularly around Christmas time. Mary tells us “My wings are those of love and they are widely spread. My eyes are always on ground level.”
Moved by her compassion and kindness, the WE Mag team sought to learn more about Mary and her projects. Check out her interview below:
What are you working on at present, what is keeping you excited?
At present, I am working on three main projects for the Santa Rosa Soup Kitchen (SRSK). These projects are ones which we undertake annually, around Christmas, to benefit the poor and needy families in various communities throughout Arima and environs. The first event is a Christmas luncheon, where poor families are invited to a Christmas meal of festivities, eats, drinks, and camaraderie. This year, our luncheon will be held on Saturday 14th December. Next, our largest activity will be held, ‘The Distribution of our Hampers’. One hundred large hampers are distributed to the poorest of the poor and other needy families. This is done on 20th December. The baskets, which were woven by the Blind Welfare Association, are returned yearly. This allows us to remain in contact with families and provide them with other nourishment, such as counselling, spiritual guidance and where possible, work. Our hope is that each family, graduate out of our programme and move on to a better life.
Next, there is the ‘Party for the Children of the Poor’. This takes place on the same date as the Catholic Feast of Holy Innocence—usually three days after Christmas. Before this event, the families are given an envelope with writing paper in it and addressed to Santa Claus. The children are to write a letter to Santa telling him whether they have been good or naughty. Like any letter to Santa, the well-behaved children, must say what good deed they did. The children also ask for toys from Santa; some tall orders as you can imagine! The parents of participating children are asked to post the letter in time for it to reach Santa at the “North Pole” where his workshop is located. In Santa’s Workshop, there are NO iPads, cellular phones, bicycles, or large remote-control toys and definitely no guns. These are the guidelines we share with persons who are donating to our cause. We prefer to give these children lots of books and other toys such as balls, dolls, teddy bears, puzzles and very challenging family games. On the day of the event, we invite Santa Claus himself to be present and to distribute the gifts to each child who has sent a letter. The children enjoy this process from start to finish and the activity also encourages them to practice their writing, to express themselves, maintain good behaviour and to exercise patience when waiting for gifts. The toys themselves are meant to bring joy and family togetherness.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome and how did you deal with it?
My biggest challenge is myself/faith; when all has failed me, when the walls of hope come tumbling down, deep within me there is this person who was created with the power to overcome. I am then able, in my weakest moment, to look beyond and draw strength from the source of my faith which is the only constant in my life, Jesus Christ. Thus, in my moments of weakens, when I rely on Christ, I am at my strongest.
When the SRSK started, my vision was to serve my Parish of Santa Rosa, Arima. This has been expanded. We now have people from as far as Sangre Grande and even Port-of-Spain and Chaguanas. So I ask myself, “Is my vision now for all the poor people of Trinidad and Tobago?”
What is your ultimate goal or biggest dream for your future?
My ultimate goal and biggest dream is to have a place: a ‘Home for the Poor’ where they can walk-in during their time of need and receive not just food, but a place that is life giving; through training, counselling and teaching - a place to help one find one’s self, to know that there are people who show compassion and are willing to listen to what they have to say; where they have a voice that matters; where they are not judged or ridiculed. I want them to have a place where their dignity can be restored and they are able to see their greatness and to realise their potential.
Tell us something about you that people may not know?
I speak with a lot of bravado and on many occasions, with some humour. However, I am often told that there is a sternness about me that could be very discouraging. I think what people experience as sternness is actually a cloak that protects a very accommodating, humble and loving person especially to the weak and vulnerable.
For what are you most grateful?
I am grateful that I can look beyond the poverty and see the person and be able to serve them wherever, whenever and in whatever (their needs are). I am created to serve. I know who I am, who God says I am, what he says I am, when he says I am. I’m walking in “power”.